Great Leaders

I recently had the opportunity to interview First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. After introducing myself, I asked: What is your best advice for boys and girls who dream of becoming President of the United States?

“If you want to be President,” Mrs. Obama said, “you have to know a lot, and you have to be serious.”

The First Lady called her husband, President Barack Obama, “Fact Guy” because he know so much and reads voraciously. “His curiosity is endless,” Mrs. Obama said, smiling.

The First Lady emphasized the value of education. She said that kids should try to find “some excitement” in the subjects they study and take their schoolwork “seriously.”

The President, she shared, was not always the best student in his class. “You don’t have to be a straight-A student,” she said. “But the President of the United States has to be curious about the world and have empathy.”


When it comes to historical figures, Mrs. Obama has a long list of people she admires. They include Harriet Tubman, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King Jr.

“You think back in the day, when people didn’t think women could do much of anything,” Mrs. Obama said about Roosevelt. “She was sitting here in the White House, co-equal partner with the President of the United States, and taking a lot of criticism because people thought that she was too outspoken, and she should be quiet, and she should just serve dinners. And she rejected all of that and got a lot done and continued to be a force on human rights and so much more, even after the Roosevelts left the White House.”

Referring to the traits that make a great leader, the First Lady added, “I just find her to be fascinating: her passion, her focus, her courage.”

See more stories from our Kid Reporters’ visit with the First Lady.